NAVSUP WSS EAGLE Program Spreads its Wings in 2016

BY LT. CMDR. DIANA DALPHONSE, EAGLE STEM LEAD AND SARAH GLINSKI,
OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, NAVSUP WEAPON SYSTEMS SUPPORT
Photos by Maddie Klebe, NAVSUP WSS
*For more information about the EAGLE program, visit facebook.com/eaglestem

NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support (WSS) and Independence Seaport Museum partnered for the second year in a row to guide high school students in the Philadelphia area toward Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related occupations through their Educating Acquisition, Global Logistics and Engineering (EAGLE) program.

In fiscal year 2016, 14 new freshmen were inducted into the four-year program already consisting of 14 sophomores and 14 juniors, bringing the diverse student base to 42. Over the course of the year, EAGLE students increased their knowledge of STEM concepts by leaps and bounds as they constructed remotely-operated submersibles, built their own rowboats and designed and programmed robots. EAGLE students are now one year closer to realizing the STEM careers of their dreams, and their passion is contagious!

Underclassmen over the Moon about EAGLE

EAGLE sophomore works on completing her Harbormaster Skiff.

EAGLE sophomore works on completing her Harbormaster Skiff.

Results from a two-part Know, Want to Know, Learned (KWL) assessment given to EAGLE freshmen and sophomores showed that students had made incredible academic progress over the year. The survey, which was administered to the high school students first in the beginning of the year and again at the end, measured students’ base knowledge and compared it with growth and understanding gained through the EAGLE program.

For freshmen, end-of-year knowledge of electrical engineering and shop safety saw the greatest increase of understanding at 83 percent with physics following closely at an increase of 75 percent.

Sophomores experienced the most dramatic increase of understanding in the subjects of boatbuilding, woodworking, nomenclature, boat terminologies and English/language arts. It was reported that 83 percent of students had a better understanding of all aforementioned subjects after finishing their second year with EAGLE.

EAGLE freshmen work on finishing the frames of their SeaPerch submersibles during their weekly Underwater Robotics class at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia.

EAGLE freshmen work on finishing the frames of their SeaPerch submersibles during their weekly Underwater Robotics class at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia.

“I have a better understanding of fractions, surprisingly!” said EAGLE sophomore Ling Jie, who relied heavily on engineering and mathematical concepts to build a rowboat with her team.

EAGLE students’ growth and enthusiasm didn’t stop there. Over 87 percent of freshmen reported that they became more self-confident, better team members, and better leaders after participating in EAGLE. Sophomores reported even higher statistics, with 93 percent reporting higher self-confidence, 97 percent reporting better teamwork skills, and 90 percent reporting a rise in leadership skills.

“[The biggest takeaway] that I will have with me forever as a result of participating in [EAGLE] is the bond among my teammates,” reported an EAGLE freshman who learned the underwater robotics curriculum to build a SeaPerch submersible.

Among the classes, 76 percent of students reported higher confidence in science, 80 percent reported higher confidence in math and 87 percent reported higher confidence in engineering. Notably, all sophomores expressed an interest in pursuing a future career in STEM.

EAGLE Juniors: “My robot is Better Than Your Robot”

EAGLE juniors direct their completed FIRST Tech Challenge robot through a tricky obstacle course at their end-of-year celebration at NAVSUP WSS in Philadelphia.

EAGLE juniors direct their completed FIRST Tech Challenge robot through a tricky obstacle course at their end-of-year celebration at NAVSUP WSS in Philadelphia.

NAVSUP WSS employees commemorated the graduation of the EAGLE STEM program high school juniors during an end-of-year celebration in Philadelphia on June 9.

The 14 graduating students were the first to complete the program’s third year, during which they designed, built and programmed For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robots from scratch with the mentorship of NAVSUP WSS engineers and mathematicians. “Our EAGLE students have worked extremely hard this year,” said NAVSUP WSS Deputy Commander for Aviation Capt. David J. Rhone. “On top of their regular school work and busy lives, they chose to participate in our program once a week to learn the inner workings of STEM.

“What they did was no easy feat – and it speaks volumes of their motivation and capacity to excel in STEM fields,” Rhone continued.

At the end-of-year celebration, students participated in their final robotics competition, navigating their robots through an elaborate course compliant with FIRST Tech Challenge regulations.

Their amazing journey commenced on Oct. 1, 2015 when they first arrived at Naval Support Activity Philadelphia with limited knowledge of robot building and programming. The students began by participating in basic engineering team building activities, like paper tower competitions, before moving on to build simple robots.

Throughout the year, they designed, tested and re-evaluated their basic robot prototype while their military and civilian mentors showed them the fundamentals of programming, wiring, the use of sensors, chassis building and 3D drawing.

The prototypes became fully-operational FIRST Tech Challenge-competitive robots, and in May 2016, EAGLE juniors showed them off to a cadre of naval STEM stakeholders. At the Sea Air Space
Naval STEM Exposition, EAGLE students didn’t just get to showcase their hard work and learn about STEM programs around the Navy; this was their very first trip to the nation’s capital, where they saw first-hand important historical sites and artifacts they’d previously only seen in books.

The first graduating class of EAGLE juniors celebrates their accomplishments alongside their NAVSUP WSS mentors.

The first graduating class of EAGLE juniors celebrates their accomplishments alongside their NAVSUP WSS mentors.

In addition to their visit to Washington, D.C. and all of the technical work they completed over the year, NAVSUP WSS’s workforce planning team shared best practices of resume building and available U.S. Navy jobs and internship opportunities.

EAGLE juniors left for the summer in June with a wealth of knowledge on engineering, Java programming, the U.S. Navy, and many other topics after elevating and applying their STEM skills to practical learning experiences throughout the year.

In FY17, as seniors in the EAGLE program, they will support incoming EAGLE juniors as they build brand new robots alongside their NAVSUP WSS mentors and compete in an official FIRST Tech Challenge.

Imagination will come to life as they make parts using the new EAGLE workshop 3D printer. They will also continue fine-tuning their robots using advanced programming and design skills.

Connecting the Community with Colleges and Careers

NAVSUP WSS and Independence Seaport Museum connected Philadelphia high school students with naval STEM colleges and careers at their second annual Navy Pi Day event on March 14.

Navy Pi Day, sponsored by the Navy Diversity Office and named after the mathematical constant, “pi,” inspired over 150 students from high schools to pursue and achieve their career goals in STEM.

Local Philadelphia high school students ask questions during a panel presentation by civilian and military members of the naval STEM workforce and EAGLE students.

Local Philadelphia high school students ask questions during a panel presentation by civilian and military members of the naval STEM workforce and EAGLE students.

The event featured interactive booths and displays from local colleges, universities and naval agencies, hands-on engineering challenges, and an underwater remotely-operated vehicle competition.

Students could also participate in a panel discussion with civilian and military members of the naval STEM workforce as well as students currently enrolled in NAVSUP WSS’s EAGLE STEM program.

“You have plenty of opportunities around this room. A lot of folks are here to make sure you further your dreams. And you need to follow up,” said Navy Strategic Systems Programs, Integrated Nuclear Weapons Safety and Security Director Jimmy Smith, who not only served as a panelist but also told the audience inspirational stories of how he followed and achieved his dreams as a recreational pilot and engineer with the Navy.

A representative from the Drexel University College of Computing and Informatics demonstrates the intricacies of computer programming to a Philadelphia high school student.

A representative from the Drexel University College of Computing and Informatics demonstrates the intricacies of computer programming to a Philadelphia high school student.

“These are opportunities that other kids aren’t getting. You need to follow up and see your dreams through,” Smith continued. “We’re only here to help you. There is no extra commitment required; we just want to see you go further in STEM. Everyone is here today to make sure that you can go further; you just have to take us up on the opportunity.”

After enjoying special presentations from naval leaders and participating in the panel, students got the chance to demo FIRST Tech Challenge robots, build their own battery-operated pi chart robots, and create a testable air velocity apparatus.

Attending organizations included NAVSUP WSS, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the U.S. Naval Academy, Navy Recruiting District – Philadelphia, the Naval History and Heritage Command, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University, Rowan University, the Community College of Philadelphia, ITT Technical Institute, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the University of the Sciences of Philadelphia, and the Urban Youth Racing School.

Navy Pi Day returned to the Independence Seaport Museum for the third year in a row on March 14, 2017.

March/April 2017